So, this AttackWatch thing has been pretty amusing, huh? I’ve been watching this unfold from my branch, and I started thinking about how delightfully American the response has been.
Consider: An executive with a penchant for decrees and rabble-rousing (he calls it “community organizing”, but tomato/ tomahto. . .) launches yet another plea for snitches, rats and bored housewives to report on their neighbors, the news, the internet, or the voices in their head. The very design of the website is remiscent of designs straight out of one of the worst periods of the previous century. If other places tried this, there would be riots. Not that you’d notice, since rioting seems to be very hip and cool these days. . .
Our reaction? 1.3 seconds of “Oh, man, that’s creepy as hell!” Followed by, “Hey, poke it with a stick, see what happens!”, in turn followed by a flood of delighted mockery. It is exactly the right response, because laughter, in addition to being the best medicine, is also a marvelous Evil-repeller (when used properly). The devils hates being mocked, because it robs him of so much of his power. The Gestapo of Germany held their power through the fear of everyone else. Likewise, Hitler gained and kept his hold because people respected and revered him. Which is why Charlie Chaplain could absolutely not be allowed to be seen by Germans mocking their Fuhrer. Once those images get into your head, they don’t leave. They pop the image bubble and all that remains is truth. If there is true substance, the person survives. If there is nothing, they fall.
This same principle was tried against Sarah Palin, when Tina Fey proclaimed (acting the role of Sarah in a skit) that she “. . . could see Russia from my house!” Palin was nonplussed by this: she too laughed at the skit and enjoyed the impression Fey performed, because she has this thing called humility. Yes, there may have been a sting or two along the way, but the truly humble are thankful that there are people out there to keep them humble. Likewise, for all his other faults, Bill Clinton, too, took ribbing pretty well. Which is why we in general still think of him as “wayward, but a basically nice guy.”
Unfortunately, our Court Jesters failed to perform the same service for the current executive. He never had humility, only an empty pride that swelled and festered ever since the night of his election to national office. And what disasters he has wrought, unconstrained by the ridicule of the masses!
Many of us were trying to laugh at him from the beginning, but we were too few, overwhelmed by those who were abdicating their Duty to Humble. Finally, though, it seems out numbers have reached critical mass, aided by the inevitable bluders of those who attract the attention of Nemesis.
Of course, mockery is not a solely American invention. But these days, it often feels like we’re the only ones who remember it’s use. I think because there are some distinct elements to our history, and thus to our national character. Our forefunners were men and women who “lit out for the territories” before people could “Civilize” us. Our nation became a nation through defiance, of which the Boston Tea Party was the warm up. We cling to our guns (because we embrace our Bibles), and react to authority in much the same way a mule reacts to yelling. No one deserves our total awe save God. No one, save the Maker Himself, is above the process of ego-deflating. We see people try to prop themselves up and, armed with ridicule, give them the sage advice of Han Solo: “Don’t get cocky, kid!”
It is good to see this finally happening again in America. No, it is not the only weapon, nor the best for all occasions. If all we did was laugh at that Dinner-jacket guy over in Iran, we might end up with a nuke in our gullet, missing our one friend in that part of the world. So, no, not appropriate in all cases. But, quite appropriate in enough for this case.